COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Lawmakers held a late afternoon press conference in Columbus Thursday where they announced the formation of a bipartisan task force to address the issue of medical marijuana in the Buckeye State.
Ohio’s Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger said the creation of the task force was in direct response to the strong support for legalization across the state, despite the failure of ballot Issue 3 in November.
A recent Quinnipiac poll shows 90 percent of Ohioans support medical marijuana.
“As I travel across the state and talk to many citizens of the state, there are a lot of concerns, a lot of questions and a lot of interest particularly in medical marijuana, “ said Rosenberger (R-Clarksville).
Lawmakers say that many voters didn’t support Issue 3 because it legalized both medical and recreational marijuana, which would be grown and sold by only a select group of people.
ResponsibleOhio was behind the Issue 3 initiative.
One of their co-founders, Jimmy Gould, was at the press conference and is on the task force. He said ResponsibleOhio has disbanded, and he had lengthy talks with Rosenberger before joining the task force.
“We’re here as a group, all of us, to come up with best solutions so people, in my opinion, can have medical marijuana,” said Gould.
Other members of the task force include medical professionals, law enforcement members and former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery, who herself suffers from a rare nerve disorder.
But the task force chairman, Rep. Kirk Schuring, (R-Canton) emphasized, that the most critical input will come from voters.
“I plan on being a facilitator with a fair and objective process where we hear from people, not only on the task force,” said Schuring, “Most importantly, we want to listen to the people.”
Multiple meetings will be held at the statehouse nearly every Thursday with a deadline of March 31, according to the Speaker of the House.
However, they can add an extra date of April 7 if needed.
The speaker says people can follow their activities and findings online.
House task force members
- State Rep. Dr. Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City
- State Rep. Dan Ramos, D-Lorain
- Dr. Brian Santin, Ohio State Medical Association
- Nick Lashutka, president of the Ohio Children's Hospital Association
- Former Ohio attorney general Betty Montgomery
- Chris Stock, author of Issue 3
- Jimmy Gould, co-founder of ResponsibleOhio
- Bill Sopko, chair of the Ohio Manufacturers' Association
- Lora Miller, Ohio Council of Retail Merchants
- Linda Hondros, Ohio Chamber of Commerce
- Matt Szollosi, Affiliated Construction Trades
- Larry Moliterno, Ohio Alliance of Recovery Providers
- Gary Wolske, Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio
- Matt Lutz, Muskingum County Sheriff and third vice president of the Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association